Another step in the saga that is the continuing tales of Alex, 8 year old WoW adventurer and novice Worgen Feral Druid.
The saga has taken a turn, and I don’t know what to think of it.
There are bonfires, cooking fires and campfires all over the place in lower level zones. Quest givers stand around campfires, Innkeepers stand near burning braziers, there are little flames at building entrances here, there and everywhere.
When you stand in these fires, you get rewarded with a gentle ‘poof’ of smoke from your butt.
There is no other way to say it… my son loves to stand in the fire.
You ever wonder where those people come from? The ones that just stand in the fire? Now you know. They like to see the gentle poof of smoke coming from their butts.
Alex loves Druid Cat form, running at high speed through the jungle, using Dash for a burst of speed immediately followed by Darkflight to keep that rush of movement going for as long as possible. When he gets the Stampeding Roar talent, he’s going to be buzzing like a ferret on Red Bull. I can see it coming, oh yes I can.
One thing I have learned in playing with Alex and going at his speed is that no matter how excited you are about the next quest, there is always time to stop and notice the small critters and insects that populate a zone… and kill them. Snakes, rabbits, small deer, cows, sheep, roaches, you name it, he kills it. And proudly announces it as a running commentary.
“There’s a snake! I pounced on it, I got it! Oooh, there’s a roach! Got ’em!”
…. okay. I know mommy doesn’t like you to kill critters, but you can kill all the roaches. I grew up in South Florida, I approve. Kill all the roaches. In fact, Blizzard, show me some good old South Florida house lizards, we can kill all those little bastards, too. I’ll make a Mage just to perpetrate a house lizard holocaust.
His favorite critters in the game at the moment are the rats. Or, as the logic train he pointed out to me goes, “cats eat rats, and I’m a cat, so I’m pouncing on my lunch!”
And that brings me to his true, most special love.
He started out getting addicted to Skull Bash, which you get at level 22. We’d be hunting Worgen in Darkshire, and he would have me wait while he lined up carefully on the target, inching forward slowly to get within the 13 yard range of Skull Bash so he could fly through the air, pouncing on his prey.
Skull Bash obviously isn’t supposed to be a charge, it’s supposed to be a spell interrupt with a short range leap, it just brings you to your target, that’s all. Alex doesn’t know what mana cost increases and stuff really are, or spell interrupts, or PvP functionality. What he does know is he had a pounce that let him slam into his enemies from a distance. Gotcha!
The 13 yard range ended up causing a little frustration. He didn’t know how to tell if he was in range of the bad guys to use the spell or not.
I didn’t understand the problem at first. On my UI, when I target an opponent, each button indicates if I’m in range for that spell or not by lighting up. I tried to explain this to Alex, only to have him tell me his doesn’t do that.
As I tried wading through the Interface options looking for where his was turned off, Cassie asked me what I was talking about like I was crazy. She uses a mostly default UI, and hers doesn’t put any form of range indicator on her buttons either.
It turns out that the XPerl UI Addon I’ve used for, what, five years now or more has it built in, and since I never, ever play the game without XPerl, I took the range indicator on individual buttons for granted. Hell, I thought it was standard for the game, how else do you know not to waste time activating an ability that has a varying range? It’s one thing on flat terrain, but some of the new sloping terrain designs are deceptive, and make accurately estimating distances difficult.
So, I got Alex set up with XPerl. I would have preferred just installing an addon that would put range modifiers on the ability buttons rather than completely revamping his whole UI, but I didn’t know of one. Honestly, this subject never came up for me before. I don’t know how Cassie and other players manage without a constant visual indicator of target range. I guess you’re just that good?
I got XPerl installed on his system, and now Alex knows how to stalk up to his prey in stealth, get just within extreme range and then unleash the leaping kitty Skull Bash thunder! Pow!
He had to use stealth for Skull Bash, because the second cause of frustation was that Skull Bash’s short range meant he could sometimes face pull before using his spell.
Ah, but I had the answer for that. And it came at level 29, when Alex was finally able to spec into Feral Charge.
Feral Charge. Sing me a song of Feral Charge, for Alex is in love with you.
With Feral Charge, Alex has a leaping kitty roaring pounce that puts him behind the target and is useable from stealth, plus he doesn’t have to be as careful with range. It’s got a much longer range than he’s used to, 25 yards, so he can be less focused on range.
Alex now Feral Charges all the things. ALL the things. Mobs, critters, pirates, you name it, he tries to feral charge it.
Last night, I caught him trying to line up on me from extreme range at the rear.
“Alex, you can’t feral charge me. I’m on your side.”
“Awww. You should be able to feral charge people on your own team too!”
“…. yes son, yes you should. Sometimes, I pray for the ability to attack members of our team, Feral Charge them and gank them and gank them and gank them….”
“Nothing, nothing. That Crocolisk looks pretty cool. You wanna kill ’em?”
“Yes!” *manuevers in stealth to feral charge the crocolisk*
At level 31, he was able to put a point in Stampede. This to me wasn’t that big a deal. To Alex, this was a VERY BIG DEAL.
I explained to him about the haste buff and the Ravage without positioning/stealth modifier, but it didn’t register until the first time he did a Feral Kitty Charge, and the Ravage button lit up.
“When I leap on them, the Ravage button lights up, and I’m not even in stealth!” Ah, the light in his eyes, the delighted glee at free mayhem. Having one of his stealth-only abilities, which must mean it’s special, available after a charge is like icing on an already delicious cake.
Then I paid closer attention to what he was saying.
He wasn’t saying “leap”.
He wasn’t saying “Feral Charge”.
No, when he was using Feral Charge to attack the enemies, ALL the enemies, what he was doing was singing a little song he made up on the spot, and sang over and over as only an 8 year old can;
“Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, they don’t call it head buttin’ for nothin’. Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, my head to his butt, POUNCE!”
At that point, I just grabbed a notebook and put it next to my keyboard. Gotta be ready to write this shit down.
Good thing I did. Not two minutes later, as we raced through the Stranglethorn Tigers (that we vastly outlevel) to grab our last two, Alex calls out, “I’ll get the one behind you so he doesn’t attack your tushie!”
Ah yes. Even on a Dwarf Shaman, my butt makes for a tasty target.
Butt protection, isn’t that what everyone wants from their adventuring companions?